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Lemley's poisonous dispute

DELAYS in cleaning up the heavily contaminated land on which the London Olympic Park will be built led to the resignation of the 2012 Games construction chief, The Times has learnt.

Mr Lemley, 71, insisted that his health was not connected to his resignation but he was “very, very concerned” about the extent of toxic material and hazardous waste on the 757-acre site, much of which was industrial land. The clean-up operation could also unearth unexploded bombs dropped during the Blitz. The American engineer was increasingly frustrated that the process of cleaning the land — known as remediation — had not begun, although contractors had been appointed to carry out the task in June.

They have carried out preparatory work, digging boreholes to examine soil samples, but will not begin full-scale remediation until next year. The ODA has yet to take posession of the entire Olympic site. Mr Lemley believes that the land is heavily polluted and that the clean-up could delay construction and send the costs — already expected to reach £6 billion — out of control. Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, appointed Mr Lemley and will be questioned about his abrupt resignation and the rising budget when she appears before a Commons select committee next week.

From: Toxic clean-un row led to resignation of Olympics chief, Sean O'Neill & Jill Sherman The Times 18 11 06

More at: Poisonous row

See also: Why Lemley left